Study Guide

The Yearling Mortality

By Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


Maybe you learned when your beloved pet died, or when a grandparent died, or maybe you've only read about it in books, but either way the fact remains: we're all going to die. Yes, even you. Luckily, most of us in the 21st century don't learn this lesson too harshly, but for Jody it's a near-daily experience: Fodder-wing, farm animals, wild animals, and finally, Flag all die. He may not think much about his own mortality—he is only twelve, after all—but, by the end of The Yearling, he's realized that even his father will die someday. Way harsh. At least he'll be ready to take his dad's place trying to scrape a few more years out of the wilderness, right?

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why doesn't Jody ever think about his own mortality, even when he's surrounded by death? Is he just too young?
  2. What would change about Jody's life if his mother died? What if his father died?
  3. How does Fodder-wing's death affect Jody? Does it change him in specific ways?

Chew on This

Jody is more upset about Flag's death than he is about Fodder-wing's death because he subconsciously recognizes that Flag belongs to his childhood.

By the end of The Yearling, Jody is ready to accept Penny's death—even though he's glad his dad is still around.

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